Harvard faculty bemoan Obamacare costs despite highest pay in America
Increased healthcare costs associated with the Affordable Care Act are reportedly “causing distress” and generating “anxiety” among faculty at Harvard University, despite the Ivy League school paying professors an average salary of over $198,000.
The New York Times reports that members of Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences fiercely opposed a plan requiring university employees to pay more for their coverage.
“Harvard, like most employers, must respond to the national trend of rising health care costs, including some driven by health care reform [Affordable Care Act],” Harvard writes in their 2015 health care enrollment guide. “Health care costs continue to be a challenge, growing at a pace that threatens our ability to make necessary investments in Harvard’s mission, sustain our benefits, and pay competitive salaries.”
The costs, and extended coverage championed by many Harvard faculty, include coverage for adults until they reach age 26, mammograms, colonoscopies, and an upcoming Cadillac tax on high-end insurance plans.
Despite the extended coverage, Harvard College Professor Richard F. Thomas expressed outrage over the prestigious university passing the cost hike onto faculty. Thomas told the Times the insurance increases are “deplorable, deeply regressive, a sign of the corporatization of the university.”
Harvard is reportedly adopting a health care plan with “standard features of most employer-sponsored health plans,” an annual deductible of $250 per individual, $750 per family, and $20 fee for a doctor’s visit. Harvard’s plan will cover 91 percent of expenses compared to the average plan offered on the health exchange which covers 70 percent of expenses.
But high salaries and plush benefits have not deterred faculty from crying foul.
Professor of History Mary Lewis led the resistance to Harvard’s benefit adjustment, insisting the adjustments are in reality a “pay cut.”
“[T]his pay cut will be timed to come at precisely the moment when you are sick, stressed or facing the challenges of being a new parent,” she said.
“It’s equivalent to taxing the sick,” said Jerry Green, an economics professor. “I don’t think there’s any government in the world that would tax the sick.”
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